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Better Call Saul S5E7: “JMM” Is Explosive in More Ways Than One

Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

After last week’s jaw-dropping ending, I was actually dreading what was to come this week, and the cold open of Better Call Saul S5E7 was exactly what I had feared—until it wasn’t. The concept of Kim and Jimmy getting married for legal protection reasons was actually so basic and boring to me that I refused to even entertain the idea (and didn’t The Sopranos debunk that idea anyway?), but as we watch Jimmy and Kim prepare to get married, there is zero emotion. It’s basically a business decision, and for those of us who have shipped McWexler from the very beginning, it was heartbreaking—until it wasn’t.

The two have a conversation hammering out the details of what their marriage will entail, namely brutal honesty. Kim got bamboozled in last week’s episode, and she does not plan on letting that happen again. So, the deal is this: if Jimmy has the urge not to tell Kim something, that’s exactly the kind of thing she needs to know. This is a far cry from their original relationship agreement, laid out in “Cobbler” (S2E2), which was that Kim absolutely did not want to know anything about Jimmy’s nonsense. We are light years away from those early days, though, and “JMM” (written by Alison Tatlock and directed by Melissa Bernstein) tells us that Kim wants to be in the loop no matter what.

Jimmy’s conversation with Huell, who is there as a witness to their union, reminds us how absolutely joyless this entire thing is. Huell is basically all of us: incredulous that these two people we have followed (and rooted for) from the beginning, are getting married just for legal reasons. But, it would seem, that is all it is—until it isn’t.

One interesting fact that we learn is that Jimmy has, in fact, been divorced twice already. We already knew that Jimmy had a marriage end in the infamous Chicago Sunroof incident (“Marco,” S1E10). We also knew from Breaking Bad (“Green Light,” S3E4) that Saul had two ex-wives. He tells Walt, “I caught my second wife screwing my stepdad,” and while that is a throwaway line that Vince Gilligan came to regret, the writers have confirmed here in Better Call Saul S5E7 that the second wife does, in fact, exist. The mention of a stepdad is interesting, but since Saul would have had zero qualms about lying to Walt, I’ll believe the specifics of that second marriage story when I see it. So it would appear that Kim is Jimmy’s third wife, which is also interesting because it leaves open the possibility that the two could still be together in the Breaking Bad timeline (we never do see Saul at home, after all). This is a much more palatable idea to me than anything espoused by the “Kim Wexler Has To Die” truthers out there, so let’s go with this angle for now, shall we?

Kim and Jimmy stand next to each other in court facing the justice of the peace
Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

So, the actual wedding may be a no-frills affair, and as it begins Jimmy and Kim are facing the judge, but once they turn and face each other—that’s when the magic happens. It’s easy for Kim to tell herself that this choice is just to protect herself legally, but when she actually looks at Jimmy and he looks at her and it all becomes real, we can see in her eyes that this is much more than a marriage of convenience to her. As for Jimmy, his dream of a Wexler-McGill partnership has finally come true, albeit not the way he originally planned.

Jimmy doesn’t have much time to savor the moment, though, because Nacho has been calling him trying to get him to go see Lalo (aka “Jorge de Guzman”), who got picked up after Mike (aka Dave Clark) tipped off the cops. The judge initially denies bail, but when Jimmy meets with Lalo to try and work out the best-case scenario given the severity (and number) of the charges against him, Lalo won’t budge. Saul Goodman has no choice but to get him out on bail if he wants to be a “friend of the cartel” (and make a bunch of money while he’s at it). If we know one thing about Saul Goodman, is that he can’t resist the flash of dollar signs in front of his eyes, but there are some downsides here. The first (and most obvious) is that being involved with the cartel in any way is incredibly dangerous. The second is that getting Lalo out on bail is near impossible. And the third: this is definitely one of those things he’s got the urge not to tell Kim.

Meanwhile, Kim and Rich are dealing with the fallout from the Tucumcari mess that Jimmy made last week. They meet with Kevin and Paige to basically beg Kevin to keep them on as counsel. Kevin is (rightfully) unhappy with the way things went with the Tucumcari situation—especially the involvement of Saul Goodman, Esq.—but Paige is going to bat for S&C (and Kim) by reminding him that until now, everything has been perfect. They leave things on uncertain terms, but not before Kevin makes a comment about Kim’s personal life: that she could do much better than Jimmy. Of all the things he could have said, that’s probably the worst, and she cannot leave it at that. She tells Rich they have to go back in and she makes the case for S&C, reminding Kevin that at several points he did not follow their legal advice—all points where the Tucumcari situation could have gone another way. Kim is able to shift the power dynamic here from Kevin having complete control to Schweikart & Cokely not particularly wanting a client who will not listen to their legal counsel. The strategy works, and Kevin seems to appreciate Kim’s brutal honesty.

Better Call Saul S5E7 gives us the closest to a sex scene we’ve ever gotten on the show, but what I find interesting about it is that the true intimacy comes not from the physical act but from the fact that Jimmy keeps his promise to Kim. They start to go at it, but Jimmy stops in order to tell her about Lalo and his potential status as “friend of the cartel.” The cartel connection is something he had previously kept from Kim, but here he is open and honest with her about exactly what is going on with the Lalo situation—including the fact that he stands to make a ton of money if he manages to get him out on bail. This moment of honesty from Jimmy is the real consummation of their marriage because this is what it was all about for Kim. This is what she asked of him, and he has proven that he can keep his vow.

Jimmy and Kim waste no time diving into one of the great marriage pastimes: looking at real estate listings. That great big house of Kim’s dreams is in reach now, especially if Jimmy starts making that cartel money. They seem to be thinking a bit bigger even than the house they went to see in “50% Off.” There truly is nothing like looking at real estate you can’t afford—we’ve all done it, don’t lie—so this was especially relatable. It seems likely that they are going to move out of the apartment and move on up in the world, but will they go for Kim’s casual luxury or Saul’s over-the-top brand of luxury?

Jimmy stands up and points at the judge as the prosecutor takes notes
Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Even from jail, Lalo is still trying to bring Gus down. He calls Nacho and tells him to set fire to one of the Los Pollos Hermanos locations. Nacho has a meeting with Mike, but before he tells him the latest, he wants to have a conversation about his father and the fact that he wants the both of them out of all of this. He asks Mike to help him find a way to get out—both from Gus and from the cartel—with his father, but when Mike learns about Lalo’s plans he correctly tells Nacho that Lalo is hardly out of the picture yet.

Things have returned to normal (or at least the new normal) for Mike. His relationship with Kaylee and Stacey is back on solid ground, and he proves it to Stacey when he is able to talk about Matty and reminisce with her without getting angry or shutting down emotionally. This is a huge step for Mike, and Stacey is both proud of him and relieved that he seems to be back in a place where she can trust him again. His work with Gus to take down Lalo seems to be satisfying his need to be mentally active. Mike always needs a task to focus on. When he doesn’t have that, his mind tends to wander to dark places. He may not be thrilled that he’s ended up working for Gus, but he is playing the cards he’s been dealt and has been able to move on from what happened with Werner. He’ll never forget, of course, but he’s keeping it moving.

Better Call Saul S5E7 brought us the return of Peter Schuler, the head of Madrigal Electromotive’s fast food division. When last we saw Herr Schuler, in Breaking Bad “Madrigal” (S5E2), things were not going his way. Here, we see earlier days of his (and Lydia’s) business relationship with Gus Fring and the Pollos franchise, and we also learn that there is a personal history between Gus and Peter which is the basis of the trust between them that allows their shadier business dealings.

After a board meeting at Madrigal’s Houston office, Gus meets Lydia and Peter in their adjoining hotel room to have a discussion about the state of affairs with the lab construction. Gus tells Peter and Lydia that the Lalo situation continues to put the project on hold. Lydia suggests a good old fashioned prison shanking, but Gus tells them that if anything happens to Lalo, the cartel will assume he was behind it. Peter (via Madrigal) is footing the bill for the project, but he is concerned that if it stretches on any longer, someone at Madrigal is going to notice that there’s money missing.

Peter is in a panic, but Gus manages to calm him down by reminding him of their past together—some incident in Santiago where Peter did what needed to be done. Lalo referenced a Santiago incident earlier in the season (“Magic Man,” S5E1), so I’m hoping that all these little teases will result in us actually learning what exactly went down in Chile. It’s long been assumed by some Breaking Bad fans that Gus had some ties to the Pinochet regime, and I’d like that question to be answered once and for all because I find Gus backstory fascinating. How does someone become Gus Fring?

Gus walks away from Los Pollos Hermanos at night
Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

At this point, Gus has no choice but to torch one of his own restaurants because he’s still got Nacho playing both sides. He and Nacho go to the Las Lunas location and, while Nacho wrecks the place, Gus sets up a very clever method of exploding the joint that involves a whole chicken and must be seen to be believed. The shot of Gus walking away as Pollos explodes in the background rivals that of Walter walking away from KENWINS’s burning car in Breaking Bad in its badassery.

Gus, having found that Lalo being in jail is actually more trouble than him being out, tasks Mike with getting Jimmy the information he needs to get Lalo out on bail. Jimmy wants to know who Mike is working for, but Mike isn’t sharing that information just yet. With a little creative Saul Goodman magic (and the knowledge that Mike “Dave Clark” Ehrmantraut fed crucial information to a witness), the judge sets Lalo’s bail at $7 million cash: a price tag that Jimmy thinks will upset Lalo but which he is more than happy (and able) to pay—as long as his trusty lawyer can pick it up for him.

While he’s in Saul Goodman mode as Lalo’s attorney, we see a lot of Jimmy in this episode. Seeing the family of the victim (and the fact that Lalo completely lacks remorse) really bothers him, but he has no choice but to stay a friend to the cartel because if you’re not their friend, you’re probably their enemy, and that’s something no one wants to be.

Jimmy sits at the defense table looking pensive
Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Better Call Saul S5E7 ends with a blowout between Howard and Jimmy that’s been brewing all season. Turns out that Howard has, in fact, put two and two together to figure out that Jimmy is behind his recent streak of mishaps. Howard approaches Jimmy in the courthouse after Lalo’s bail hearing, and Jimmy is in no mood to deal with him. He’s still having reservations about getting Lalo out of prison and a confrontation with Howard was definitely not on his agenda. Howard says what he needs to say about Jimmy’s antics and Jimmy predictably denies them, but things take a turn after Howard accuses Jimmy of being in pain.

Howard is pretty off base in his assessment of Jimmy lately, and this is no different really. While Jimmy was once in pain, he has moved on. Jimmy takes a pot shot at Howard, saying that he killed Chuck, and then rips into him about the job, which he considers beneath him. He’s the all-powerful Saul Goodman now, and Saul doesn’t need HHM or any other firm in order to make it. In a sense, Jimmy is correct in saying that Howard has no idea what he’s capable of or the extent of the world that Saul Goodman occupies. Of course, screaming his head off in the middle of the courtroom is hardly the best way to have this conversation, but Jimmy’s hatred for Howard has been going on for so long that he was bound to completely snap one of these days. He’s finally in a position where he doesn’t need or want Howard or HHM or any of the rest of that. He’s got Kim and Saul Goodman’s business is booming. All that’s missing is a big house, a white Caddy, and a law office with a blow-up Lady Liberty on top.

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Written by Ali Sciarabba

In addition to her position as TV Editor and Writer for 25YL, Ali Sciarabba is a freelance editorial consultant and author of numerous nonfiction reference books for middle school and high school students. In her spare time she enjoys obsessing over various television shows, especially Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. When not overanalyzing TV shows, she is wrangling her Corgi, Cassidy, who is inarguably the cutest dog that has ever existed.

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